HARRISONBURG, Va. — Veteran head coach Chuck Priore of Stony Brook rarely has had a bye this late in the season, but the timing could be fortuitous after a heart-breaking loss in the final seconds Saturday afternoon.
A 51-yard field goal attempt by Alex Lucansky of the Seawolves as time expired was well short as James Madison, the third-ranked Football Championship Subdivision team in the country and a three-time defending Colonial Athletic Association champion, escaped with a 13-10 victory over Stony Brook before a homecoming crowd of 25,240.
“This was not a one-game season,” Priore said Saturday night. “We are not going to be defined by this. We have a game in two weeks [at home with Delaware]. We will get a chance to evaluate how we can do better.”
The Stony Brook offense, which entered with the two top running backs in the CAA, was limited to 113 yards on 34 carries. Donald Liotine had 71 yards on 19 carries, including a touchdown run of 30 yards, and Jordan Gowins was held to 54 yards on 12 attempts.
The two entered averaging a total of 199.9 yards per contest. In the second half, the Seawolves had just 21 yards rushing on 12 attempts.
“They played a great run defense,” Priore said of JMU. “We did not have much success in the second half.”
No. 15 Stony Brook (6-3, 4-2 CAA) entered the day second in the conference to first-place Towson, which lost Saturday to Delaware. The Seawolves host Delaware on November 10 then end regular-season play November 17 at Albany, which lost Saturday to Maine.
JMU (6-2, 4-1) was the national runner-up last season and won the national title in 2016.
“Coach Priore has done an incredible job of building that program there,” JMU coach Mike Houston said. “There is a good chance we will see them again. I think they are one of the top teams in the country. That was one of the better teams we will see all year.”
The Seawolves lost in the national playoffs last year at JMU in a game in which SBU quarterback Joe Carbone threw five interceptions.
On Saturday, Carbone was 19-for-37 passing for 192 yards with two interceptions, though one was off a deflection when the Seawolves were deep in JMU territory.
“They started bringing more pressure,” Carbone said. “We just have to execute better.”
“I thought we ran the ball well in the first half at least,” Liotine said. “In the second half, not as much success as we wanted.”
The Dukes, who trailed 10-7 at the half, tied it with 13:51 left in the fourth quarter on a 41-field goal by Tyler Gray. They took the lead with 8:56 left on a 24-yard field goal by Tyler Gray to make it 13-10.
Lucansky booted a 37-yard field goal with four seconds left in the first half to give the visitors a 10-7 lead. The Seawolves tied it with 10:14 left in the first half with a 30-yard touchdown run by Liotine and the extra point.
The Dukes scored first on a 15-yard TD catch from quarterback Ben DiNucci to Kyndel Dean, who broke several tackles after catching the ball across the middle. The PAT gave the Dukes a 7-0 lead with 1:47 left in the first quarter. That drive was set by an Adam Smith interception inside the Dukes' 10-yard line off a pass by Carbone.
Still, JMU had just 140 yards in the air and just 243 total yards on offense.
“We knew we matched up well with them,” said Seawolves senior linebacker Shayne Lawless, who had a team-high 10 tackles.
“We created a lot of havoc in the [JMU] pass game,” Priore said.
But it wasn’t enough to post a road win.